How Scott Porter founded San Diablo Artisan Churros and Vitamin T
The Founder Series is a column by and about Utah founders and how they got to where they are today. Click here to read past articles in the series.
Where it all began: I love tacos. When I was five years old, I named my first pet “Taco.” No question, it foreshadowed the impact tacos would have on my perspectives and professional life.
When I first set foot in Mexico, my obsession with tacos, the people and the culture increased. People from all walks of life gather religiously on street corners, taquerías and back alleys because of the power of the taco. You see millionaires standing next to janitors sharing limes and salsa and devouring tacos as they swap recommendations about their next taco conquest. Tacos are an expression of the deeply-rooted cultural belief that “mi casa es tu casa”—because my tacos are your tacos.
That’s what all of this is about for me: Real human connection.
I learned this lesson years ago at one of my favorite taco trucks in East Los Angeles. After not stopping by for about six months, Ernesto, one of the workers, greeted me by name. He asked me how I’d been and if I wanted what I always ordered: tacos al pastor with extra pineapple and extra crispy meat. I was blown away. I felt like a million bucks. That simple human interaction made me feel like the most seen, the most cared for and the most important person in the world, all in a brief instant. Imagine the transformative impact on our businesses, families and lives we could create by following his example of human connection!
At the age of 19, I embarked on a journey to Mexico as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tampico. It is impossible for me to underscore how influential this experience would be in shaping my life.
For two years, I was immersed in every nuance of daily Mexican life and only spoke Spanish. I served and taught families of all ages in humble rural mud huts and in affluent urban homes. I was fed endless meals “hecho con amor” (made with love) and always with some form of chile—the spicier, the better.
From handshakes to “abrazos” (hugs), introducing yourself “para servirte” (“I’m here to serve you”) and living the “mi casa es tu casa” mantra as a way of life, I was learning firsthand from the greatest everyday examples. This next-level warmth and unconditional love—even as a perfect stranger—was something I hadn’t experienced before with such wholehearted consistency. It changed me. I was (and still am) continually inspired by the tremendous value Mexicans place on real human connection. Personal. Real. Like family. Selfless. And it’s second nature.
Post-mission, I knew there was so much more to experience, learn and appreciate about Mexican culture. As an undergrad at Brigham Young University (BYU), I secured a summer internship with a PR agency in Mexico City—an early career move I had no idea would dramatically impact absolutely everything I’m doing now.
My search for the perfect taco (and churro)
During that internship, I met a now-dear friend, Endy. She knew the city like the back of her hand, including all the secret culinary gems. We shared a deep love of food, which made her the perfect partner to help me prepare an ideal itinerary for when my friends came to visit after my internship. We would only have one week to show them all the glory of Mexico City—which meant, most importantly, introducing them to the best food in the best food city in the world. Meals were numbered, and we didn’t want to waste calories and precious stomach real estate on mediocre food.
Endy was my taco oracle, and we were on a mission to find the best tacos. Together, we would hit the streets on culinary adventures after work and on weekends, exploring every nook and cranny of Mexico City. We discovered hidden taquerias and street food that changed my life, and I met incredible people who I’m still friends with today. That itinerary wowed my friends that summer.
My all-time favorite street food stop on this inaugural “taco tour” was Coyoacán—the vibrant colonial-bohemian neighborhood and former stomping grounds of Frida Kahló. What has since become “my” stand is tucked in the food courtyard behind the cathedral and legitimately makes the best deep-fried quesadillas on planet Earth. My love for deep-fried food knows no bounds, and since Coyoacán is basically the churro capital of the world, this became heaven on earth. It was a deep-fried dessert-feeding frenzy.
I tried every last churro stand with reckless abandon. These churros were unlike any I’d had before. They were so different and so much better! They were made fresh and filled with dulce de leche (cajeta), Nutella, sweetened condensed milk, pineapple or coconut. Mercy, they were good!
I didn’t know it then, but all of this street food R&D set the stage for two of my current professional endeavors—both of them centered on the quintessential experience and taste of tacos and churros.
An unconventional entrepreneur
Ever since selling our neighborhood newspaper (which I wrote on my parents’ typewriter when I was eight years old), I have always been involved in entrepreneurial ventures. I love the thrill, accomplishment and challenge of it all.
After my undergrad studies, I was the first employee at a startup PR agency. I worked there for five years before going back to school to get both my MBA and MA in Spanish degrees concurrently. After business school at BYU, I unexpectedly took a job to transform and turn around nursing homes in Southern California. Facing challenges from bankruptcy to regulatory shutdown, I felt compelled to figure out how to create the seemingly elusive and synergistic combination of a successful business with a thriving environment for our customers and team. I started to study exemplary brands (think Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe’s, The Ritz-Carlton and Disney) to learn what they did to create something special that positively impacts lives and drives outstanding business results.
I dove deep into what these companies did to make their audiences and customers fiercely loyal and fall in love with them. What if we could create that in a nursing home, of all places? This led me to develop a comprehensive system and framework to build a purpose-driven team that crafts an experience that is truly special, different and memorable. Our humanized experience in the most vulnerable of healthcare settings would be kind and caring. It would convert our residents, their families, doctors and hospitals into our biggest advocates and evangelists. We helped our team realize we are all human beings and not nursing home bed numbers.
The impact was powerful. Within one year, this humanized experience was a catalyst for our success: we hired and retained top talent, maintained nearly 100 percent occupancy, and built a reputation for excellence (doctors sent their parents to stay with us). We had pulled out of bankruptcy and brought in $4.5 million in revenue.
We were onto something special and transformative.
I implemented this mindset, system and framework in all of my entrepreneurial endeavors since leaving the nursing home industry. After nearly two years in management consulting and executive advisory with Fortune 500 companies in Latin America, I returned to the senior healthcare industry and brought my strategic focus on internal culture and humanized experiences to running a home health agency. This system worked again to drive next-level team member engagement, outrageous customer satisfaction and financial results.
I knew this would be a hallmark of our success when Wade Eyerly invited me to be a co-founder of the first all-you-can-fly membership airline, Surf Air. My charge was to define our mission, create an extraordinary experience for our team and members, and execute all marketing strategies. This was the rocket fuel for successfully differentiating ourselves, exceeding expectations in an industry weighed down by unhappy flyers, and restoring humanity and a personalized touch to the flying experience.
Two nursing homes, an airline and churros (obviously)
After my time at Surf Air, I decided it was time to do two things: 1) share my transformative framework to drive impact and results for leaders and their brands and 2) experience the results of that framework applied in a completely different industry—food. An obvious career progression, right? It was the right time to resurrect the idea of a fresh-filled churro business I had years ago while also beginning to consult with brands and inspire their leaders to humanize their brand experiences and transform their businesses.
In 2016, I launched San Diablo Artisan Churros as Utah’s first and only gourmet churro experience purveyor. I was intent on establishing an enduring food brand propelled by purpose and human-centered experiences. I knew that anyone could make and sell churros, but for us, churros were a way to fill lives with happiness. We wanted to stand out at catering events and festivals by specializing in Coyoacán-inspired, fresh-filled churros together with a personal touch and our signature churro experience that’s “heaven sent, wicked good.”
In 2020, COVID’s impact on live events hit us really hard. It became a wonderful opportunity to innovate, adapt and scale from a locally-based business to a globally-focused churro powerhouse. We decided to take “churros to the people” in a different way by productizing our signature San Diablo experience and making the first at-home churro-making kit that we call “Churro Fiesta in a Box.”
Over the years, our dedicated team of artisans has provided our unique style of deep-fried happiness to churro lovers (and converted churro skeptics) at 6,000+ weddings, corporate parties and food truck events. We have sold 14,000 at-home churro-making kits for families and corporate gift-giving, which has been a catalyst for countless happy churro memories worldwide.
We’re laser-focused on becoming the global churro authority and creating rich, meaningful and personalized churro experiences. We want you to live your best churro life with fresh-filled churros at events and future flagship experiences in coveted locations in the USA, Mexico, Latin America and worldwide with churro-making equipment and supplies, frozen churros coming soon to grocery store freezers, and with all the resources, tools and information for an extraordinary churro experience at home or anywhere.
"The humanized brand experience is the biggest key differentiator, competitive advantage and distinguishing feature of a successful organization. Through tacos and churros, I seek to inspire executives, teams and all of us to lead out and champion more human connection. It’s what our world needs. It’s what each of us needs. It’s what I need."
Human connection sparks joy, inspires self-worth, develops trust, creates raving fans, produces powerful business results and builds a lasting positive impact and legacy.
Human connection transforms. That’s one part of the “T.”
The other is—no surprise here—for tacos. Taco experiences are the master teachers, and bringing students to “class” is my life mission. Throughout my eclectic entrepreneurial journey, I found myself constantly using my taco experiences as simple and powerful examples of how to run businesses that create human connections consistently and empower you to thrive.
Tacos and transformation—something we all need more of. Cue Vitamin T.
I founded Vitamin T at the same time as San Diablo with the crystal-clear intention of being a different type of boutique brand experience consultancy that works together with purpose-driven leaders to focus on human connection and elevated experiences as a core business strategy.
Our taco-centered curriculum gets the creative juices flowing and inspires. Our approach to consulting engagements is hyper-personalized. We co-create with executives and their teams to first define what I like to call “brand DNA” (vision, mission, values). Then, with that purpose in place, we architect and establish systems and structures to humanize your brand experience—an experience that brings your mission to life at every level and at every touchpoint of your organization every day.
Whether you check out the Tacoincidence podcast and video series or subscribe to our Dose of Vitamin T, blogs or taco Instagram account, you’ll find inspiration from simple and profound principles that are actionable and transformative. And if you, like me, need a power boost of Vitamin T, please join me on one of my absolute favorite things in the world—a taco tour of Mexico City. This is where it all comes full circle. Curating and crafting these taco master class scenarios based on past-life experiences is an absolute blast!
These executive taco tour masterminds are not your typical weekend in Mexico and definitely not your normal mastermind meeting. We’re chasing tacos on an immersive learning and cultural adventure as we eat our way through Mexico City. It’s a five-day journey of one-of-a-kind experiences (think professional Mexican wrestler training in the ring and a shaman-led Aztec steam bath ritual) and transformational insights where we forge deep connections and get inspired to elevate our brands and lives.
At Vitamin T, we work so hard to replicate the same sense of wonder and connection I experience with the Mexican people when I’m immersed in their beautiful culture. Watching the breakthroughs friends, family and business colleagues have as they experience firsthand that simple and profound level of humanized brand experiences is richly fulfilling for me.
Opportunities in our experience economy
We’ve all experienced seismic shifts in how business is growing and changing—and it’s thrilling! There are huge opportunities for us as we transition from a consumer-focused and transaction-based economy to an experience-focused and interaction-based economy.
Human connection strategies are deeply embedded into every function of our businesses. Organizations are no longer nice to have but absolutely essential for survival and success. Without that focus, team members will go work for your competitor, customers will find someone that cares to give their time and money to, and you risk feeling directionless.
On the flip side, purpose-driven, relationship-focused leaders and organizations that embrace these changes will find tremendous success, create a positive impact in people’s lives and leave a lasting legacy for good. The humanized brand experience is the biggest key differentiator, competitive advantage and distinguishing feature of a successful organization. Through tacos and churros, I seek to inspire executives, teams and all of us to lead out and champion more human connection. It’s what our world needs. It’s what each of us needs. It’s what I need.
I’m forever grateful for the life lessons a simple taco stand taught me about how to be successful in business and in life. Join me on my search for the perfect taco, and let’s discover together how our brands, organizations, families and each of us can be more human.